Pinked Out

Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There is pink everywhere. And it gives this feeling of light airy joy. The posters encouraging women to get their mammograms are full of happy, smiling women. You can see that light, airy thread suspended in their smiles. The NFL games in the US are ‘pinked out’ for October; my friend in France shares a photo of a downtown street in Toulouse adorned with small pink umbrellas.

Pink. We associate this color with femininity. Well, traditionally. Because of my job, I now associate this color with strength. 

The strength to face the world with this invisible disease eating at you inside. And sometimes it shows itself. Despite one’s efforts to keep it invisible.

Sometimes, with some, the only discernible hint perhaps being a slower gait or thinning hair because of the radiation and chemo.

And for others, other things give away the fact that they are battling.

Pink. We associate this color with girly things – delicate. There is indeed a delicate grace by which survivors and thrivers move.

They smile, they laugh, they cry sometimes. Some talk about their illness like it’s a separate entity. Others choose to not address it directly, opting to focus on the life aspect of what others may deem a life or death sentence.

This October, I have been inundated with pink. As we go from community center to health fair to parks to presentations in conference halls, and we talk about what breast cancer is, what it can do to you, and what we are trying to do about it, pink overwhelms.

It also signifies a quiet hope.

That those who are afraid of a diagnosis will stand tall above their fear and use that fear to push them to get a mammogram, talk to their family members about any breast cancer history.

That those who receive a diagnosis know that they are not alone in this. They have unwittingly joined a sisterhood, a sorority, of soldiers fighting for their lives. There are state programs that help underinsured and uninsured women to access mammograms and treatment, if need be. This is what the sorority of soldiers and their co-fighters have brought to fruition over the years. There is another cohort of co-fighters. They wear white lab coats and spend their days looking at cells and other biological matter in all manner of ways hoping to find the key that would lead to the solution of all solutions.

I hardly ever wear pink. This October, I salute those who do, for the cause, for the fight, for the survivors and for the thrivers. I stand with you.

 

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